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Posts Tagged ‘mirrors’

Something I started to grapple with in the “coming out” season of Spring ’09 was other peoples’ responses, reactions, and changed attitudes towards me. It’s not that I wanted to hide my breast cancer diagnosis. On the contrary, my m.o. was to gather a large posse about me and so I was very liberal – unabashed in fact – about spreading the news, which is in keeping with my blogger’s nature. But, just as I blog now in the solitude of my little room, I transmitted information then via phone and email. What shifted in the Spring was the view. After the quiet censor of winter hibernation with its natural intimacy, the sprouts were popping, the birds were twittering, the critters were poking their noses about and so was I which meant I was meeting more mirrors. There were more faces to reflect what was going on inside of me.

At the end of April, I attended a big 60th birthday bash for a dear friend. It was my first time dining out since the diagnosis in February which is the day I quit my sugar addiction, and my first time in a joyous cluster in which small talk is the protocol. Even so, it was wonderful to be a part of a celebration for a friend. It was fabulous to attend a party and eat. Before cancer diagnosis, I ate very sparingly while out with others, and then went home and binged on sweets. Yes, I had a serious, control-freakish, eating disorder for a number of years. It was brand new for me to fully partake of a party buffet and my body, heart, & soul were ecstatic. As I gobbled up multiple helpings of salmon and kale and roasted fingerling potatoes, I felt as though I had been released from the tower to rejoin the feast. Plus, I learned that eating made me feel solid, grounded, better able to feel at ease in an eclectic energy mix. Being well fed helped me to participate in small talk. So, I was having a fine time at the party, and yet, I felt fatigued, and the fatigue scared me.

My journal reports: I feared that the fatigue had to do with my “condition” which is actually a non-condition right now – the cancer was surgically removed, and I am not in the thralls of chemical or radiation therapy at present. The only real condition I have is the idea of cancer. The idea that I had it, the idea that there could be some remaining, lurking, crawling or creeping through the lymph system, the idea that further cancer treatments are pending. I think these ideas are fatiguing me.

Before I left the party, my friend Susan Phalen and I found a quiet corner to sit and talk, and I told her about the visit with the oncologist. I told her about the oncotype dx test, the variety of chemo tracks, and the oncological slant towards riding one of those chemo rails. As I talked, my friend’s eyes pooled with tears which made me realize the heaviness of the ideas that I’m carrying right now. I hugged her, and then I had to go home.

The fatigue was still with me when I woke the next day and so I pushed myself to walk it off. As a young woman alone in New York City, I fought off depression by chanting to myself,”Better and better everyday in every way,” while I walked the thirty blocks from my office in Midtown to my home in Chelsea. I recalled the effectiveness of that practice and chanted, “stronger and stronger everyday in every way,” while I walked our dog Bert up and down the hill near our home, and it worked. With my battery charged, I was able to garden, clean, take my daughter Acadia to a street fair, and attend another friend’s birthday party. Again, I was happy to celebrate a friend and pleased to eat, but something happened at this party that really challenged me.

My journal tells it best: The party was fun but strange for me. The party throwers – a couple I adore – knew about my diagnosis and tried to care for me by not telling me it was potluck. Lovely intention but… I’m a wasp from Connecticut raised by Emily Post – I never come empty-handed. I was mortified. Nobody else at the party knew why my family and I were free-loaders. Well, maybe nobody knew, BUT I knew, and I knew why, and…OK, so I’m learning about how hard it is to be on the receiving end of care. I’m also learning about how others act toward cancer. People seem to think I’m an invalid right now.

My great friend and tennis partner Susan (Ry) Ryan told me that I should “use” this time period. She said, “You should use this experience to take and get all you can like Imus in the Morning is doing with his prostate cancer. He uses his condition to get sympathy for fund raising purposes and he’s totally out there on his radio show.”

I laughed and thought, Ya, I put it out there too. Collected sympathy, prayers, and attention for my healing account while in the privacy of my little home just like Imus broadcast his cancer diagnosis & treatment from his sound booth. It’s a lot easier to receive care when you can’t see the concern or the tears in their eyes.

(to be cont.)

Unabashedly yours,

L.


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